5 Ways Managers of People Can Make It All About Their Employees

Kris Dunn Employee Coaching, Employee Communications, Employee Engagement, Engagement and Satisfaction, Good HR, Kris Dunn, Learning and Development, meridan, Meridian

Got a good session coming up on Wednesday at 1pm ET (October 11) at the Meridian Learning and Development Hangout Series called “How Leaning Can Reframe Managers As Career Agents” (click on the link to register).

The focus of what we’ll talk about are the biggest keys in terms of employees feeling like managers are agents for their career.  It’s pretty simple – the best managers include WIIFM in every conversation they have with employees.  WIIFM stands for “What’s in it for me?”, and the question has to be answered with anything company or job-related you’re discussing with your employee.

Want examples?  OK – regardless of the conversation you’re having with an employee, if you’re asking them to to something performance-related, you can emphasize WIIFM by talking about the following:

1) The interview

Of course we’re leading with a conversation that happens before someone is even hired!  Smart managers take the time to grill the candidate in front of them, but when they feel they might have someone they’re going to hire, they start selling.

One of the ways they sell is to ask open-ended questions about what the employee’s short- and long-term career goals are. Then smart managers share stories about how they’ve helped the people they’ve managed accomplish great things. Don’t have that track record as a manager? Probably time to start building one, huh?

2) Goal setting

Once the employee has been hired, it’s on-boarding time. Great leaders get creative when it comes to goal setting. Here’s one idea: Describe to the employee what needs to be done in order to be successful in the role, but seamlessly transition into how it’s going to be good for the employee’s career.

Some of you will struggle with this.  If you stop the world and still struggle with it, you probably need to go find the highest paying individual contributor role possible and get there ASAP – because your company’s going to find out you’re average at best soon.

3) Coaching to improve performance

If you’re going to be an effective manager, there are going to be multiple times when you will need to coach your employee in order to improve his/her performance. When that happens, you should be sharing why the needed performance tweak is in line with the goals in question. In addition to saying why it’s aligned with the business, you should be outlining why the performance tweak contributes to making them more valuable as a professional in their field of choice.

Being an agent for the people who report to you is all about pushing for more and linking it to being good for those who report to you – not just you or the company.

4) Good to great performance management

The best managers reserve great ratings in performance management for employees doing truly outstanding work. They understand the difference between what good and great performance looks like. When managers understand how to make this contrast, they’re also quick to explain to employees how getting to the great level of performance will make them more valuable — both inside and outside the company.

This is linked to coaching to improve performance, but good to great is more of a true performance management rating play.  “Yeah, making the buses run on time is pretty good, but it’s not GREAT.  What would happen if you could do that and also come up with a few new things to make us better?”

5) Compensation conversations

We end with the elephant in the room. Many of you are strapped by limited compensation budgets and there’s really nothing attractive to discuss, right? Three percent raise? Thanks, boss! Managers who are career agents for their employees aren’t afraid to talk about making their employee more valuable over time.

This includes discussing what’s available externally if an employee looked for another job. That may sound crazy, but it’s actually the most obvious way for employees to truly trust that you have their best interests at heart.

When you aren’t afraid of this conversation, a funny thing happens – you actually end up with better retention – and a track record of people who have gone on to do great things with other companies when it was time.

That may or may not be something your company wants to endorse – but it’s damn good for you as a manager.

Bottom line – leverage through self-interest sells.  Have you ever thought of a training program for managers to change their world-view to this?  You probably should.  Join us for the conversation, we’ll talk about everything you see above and more.

FOT Note: This rant is brought to you by the good folks at Meridian, who like us enough to be an annual sponsor at FOT for all content in our learning and development track (and don’t expect that we run any of this by them ahead of time). They’re also up for having fun to the extent that they’re sponsoring the Learning and Development Hangout Series. Check it out!

Kris Dunn

Kris Dunn is a Partner and CHRO at Kinetix, a national RPO firm for growth companies headquartered in Atlanta. He’s also the founder Fistful of Talent (founded in 2008) and The HR Capitalist (2007) – and has written over 70 feature columns at Workforce Management magazine. Prior to his investment at Kinetix, Kris served in HR leadership roles at DAXKO, Charter and Cingular. In his spare time, KD hits the road as a speaker and gives the world what it needs – pop culture references linked to Human Capital street smarts.